Thursday, October 8, 2009

Welcome to A Blog About School

A funny thing happens when you talk about school with another parent. Maybe you’re waiting outside the building at three o’clock for the kids to get out. You’re making small talk with another dad. You start talking about what the kids are saying about school.

“My kids say they only get fifteen minutes for lunch,” he might say.

“Yeah, I think that’s all they get,” you say.

“And just getting through the line takes time.”

“Especially if they’re buying lunch.”

“My kids bring their lunch, but they never finish it. There’s not enough time in fifteen minutes.”

“Sometimes mine eat theirs on the way home.”

“Seems like they could give them more than fifteen minutes for lunch.”

“Yeah, seems crazy.”


Shoulders are shrugged.
The bell rings.
The subject is never revisited.

I imagine a prisoner in solitary confinement, using a spoon to tap out messages in Morse code on the bars of his cell. Suddenly, he hears some tapping in response -- someone else wants to talk! Then the moment passes and he’s alone again.

Of course, you could talk to the principal, or the superintendent, or the school board. You would probably get some sympathy -- these are all good people trying to do their best. “Yes, it really is too bad that lunch has to be so short. But it’s so hard to accommodate the schedule, and the kids start to get unruly, and the next group of kids needs the room,” etc.

As you stand there, by yourself, you wonder: But what if all the parents agreed that fifteen minutes was too short? Would that make a difference? And then you realize: it doesn’t matter, because no one will ever know how many parents agree with you. There is no mechanism for expanding that conversation beyond the three o’clock small talk. Sometimes it almost seems as if that is by design.

Therefore: a blog. On a blog, I can toss out some ideas -- not just to parents, but to teachers, kids, people at other schools, anyone who’s interested -- and see what kind of response they get. Even if it doesn’t change any minds, it might at least reassure a few people that they are not alone in their opinions. (On the other hand, it may just prove that I am, in fact, alone. I promise not to be surprised.)

In the spirit of any self-respecting blog, I have posted an inaugural rant. Although it’s a response to a very specific practice that has recently begun at my kids’ school, it can also serve as a kind of initial manifesto for this blog, and, hopefully, as something that will stimulate some debate.

Of course, I have no idea where this is going. Maybe I’ll get tired of it in a couple of weeks. In the meantime, thanks for tuning in.

UPDATE: On the issue of the fifteen-minute lunch, a group of parents has petitioned the school superintendent for change. See this post.

..How can I comment?